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Commons on Champa to host CO Active meeting on international trade opportunities

Colorado is one of the most active if not the most active states in the U.S. With its sunny skies, mountains and rivers, it's no surprise that outdoor companies are located here, but getting those goods and wares into international markets can be difficult. To help address that, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) and CO Active are hosting a seminar about international trade opportunities in the active lifestyle industry.

The one-hour seminar will be hosted at The Commons on Champa on Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. and will feature insights from Abdul Sesay, an international business development representative with OED. At OED, Sesay led the pilot of Denver's Export Promotion Program. Through his efforts he helped Denver Beer Company begin exporting to Japan.

The seminar will help companies and entrepreneurs identify exporting opportunities. It will help them understand what types of resources for exporting their products are available. It also will discuss trade missions and trade shows.

CO Active was launched with OED funding and support. It's one of Colorado's newest business associations and was launched to focus on networking, supply-chain support and to help expand market exposure for companies manufacturing in Colorado for the outdoor industry and active lifestyles that Coloradans enjoys.

Those interested in attending should RSVP Carrie Singer at carrie.singer@denvergov.org.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

DISH to hire 100 IT positions in LoDo

The Englewood-based company is expanding its entrance into the on-demand streaming world and tech solutions to meet consumers' needs. To support this work the company will hire up to 100 IT-focused employees at the Grand Central Building near Union Station. The new positions will support Sling TV and its Hopper DVR offering.

"DISH and Sling TV are driving a consumer market that is changing in real-time, and we're developing innovative ways to deliver video and connected services to millions of customers," explains Rob Dravenstott, DISH senior vice president and chief information officer. "From the heart of the thriving Denver tech community, this office will utilize collaborative software development models to expand our world-class IT group and play an integral role in creating next generation services."

"DISH has continued to invest in Colorado since its founding in 1980, employing more than 4,000 employees across the state today," says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "This step not only helps expand their presence, it gives another meaningful boost to Colorado's thriving tech community as we welcome a new neighbor in downtown Denver."

The company will renovate 20,000 square feet of the Grand Central Building at 1615 17th St. The building will be redesigned as an open work environment. It also will include a private technology demonstration space.

"It's very encouraging to see one of our area's key employers choosing to expand right within the heart of LoDo and our regional transit hub," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "We're proud to welcome them to Downtown Denver for their next stage of innovation and growth."

DISH already is recruiting for the facility. It anticipates that the office will be fully operational by June 2016. "DISH's selection of Downtown Denver as the location to expand its technology products and services perpetuates the brand of our strong culture of innovation and signals the economic vitality of the center city," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The hiring process is underway and interested applicants can learn more at DISHGrandCentral.com.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Elevation Digital Media points Arrow the way to the future with Super Bowl spot

The Broncos aren't the only Denver team in the Super Bowl this weekend. Arrow Electronics and Elevation Digital Media are airing a national commercial during the third quarter in the Super Bowl touting the company's "Five Years Out" campaign for aerospace and defense.

The Super Bowl isn't just the most highly watched game in the U.S. -- it's also the Super Bowl for advertising the world over. After all, ads during the event are the most costly in the world. In August 2015, Fortune reported that a national 30-second spot during the event will cost as much as $5 million. But the cost of getting a company's message to consumers or other businesses during the event can be well worth it.

Arrow Electronics is a Colorado-headquartered multi-national company that specializes in distributing electronic components. It provides services and products to everything from defense and aerospace to enterprise-level computing services and electronics recycling.


The innovative ad features a features a 3D folder -- not printer -- made out of Legos that folds a piece of paper into a paper plane and launches it, like the campaign for the company.

"This is a team of five guys who work out of their small studio in the Taxi Building in RiNo -- not a multi-million-dollar ad agency -- producing a spot for a Fortune 100 company," says Edward Macsalka, a Denver-based communications manager with Comcast.

"Just five years ago, Elevation Digital Media was focused on sports recruiting videos for high school athletes," he adds. "Over the past few years, that has evolved into corporate communication videos/commercials for the likes of Comcast, Arrow and Western Union, as well as many other national brands. . . . This is a huge achievement for any large firm, but even more special for a company that can barely call their studio a studio."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Colorado Impact Fund supports Galvanize with its fifth investment

Locally focused venture capital firm Colorado Impact Fund has made its fifth investment since launching in July 2014 in Galvanize, the tech education and workspace startup that's establishing a major presence in tech scenes in Denver and elsewhere.

"This investment represents a perfect synergy of our two organizations with complementary missions coming together for the greater good," explains Jim Kelley, managing partner of the Colorado Impact Fund. "Galvanize is filling a much-needed gap between the demand and supply for technical talent, while also attracting industry partners to create a strong hiring pipeline for its graduates."

The company, which launched in 2012, has established eight campuses in some of the country's most tech-oriented cities: San Francisco, Austin, Seattle and Phoenix. The other four campuses are in Colorado -- two in Denver, one in Boulder and one in Fort Collins.

Galvanize offers immersive, 12- to 24-week courses for people interested in working in data science, engineering, development and other IT positions. The company boasts a 95 percent placement rate for its graduates.

"Preparing our workforce and students to compete in an increasingly tech-oriented economy is very much on strategy for CIF," Kelley says.

Beyond education, the company also has workspaces for startups and entrepreneurs. Such community workspaces and offices can help cross-pollinate ideas and help companies find ways to work together.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Dizzion expands in Denver and beyond as its cloud grows

Denver's Dizzion tripled its employees and doubled its revenues in 2015. In anticipation of continued growth,  the cloud services company is moving its headquarters to downtown Denver and opening an office in San Antonio, Texas.

"We're seeing a rapid increase in demand for our virtual desktop solution," says CEO Steve Prather. "Dizzion's big focus in 2016 will continue to be building and growing our team and supporting our customers at the highest level of which we are capable. Our office moves in Denver and San Antonio will deliver the space and business tools to allow our team to thrive." He says the company made some key hires in 2015, including Carol Wood as its chief financial officer, Brady Ranum as its VP of product and strategy and Margie Sims as its VP of sales.

As the company grows in 2016 it anticipates launching new products. It hasn't announced what they will be but the company has focused on using cloud computing to allow clients' employees access to applications and data from any device, anytime, anywhere.

Dizzion will move its Denver headquarters to the 26th floor of Dominion Towers at 600 17th St. in downtown Denver in February. The new space will be three times as large as its former headquarters in Denver. It also plans on moving into a larger space in San Antonio in the first quarter of 2016.

The company already is hiring in Denver and San Antonio in sales and operations positions. Ultimately the company expects to double its staff in both offices this year.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


The Local Coffeehouse launches indie coffeeshop app and digital directory

Ever been stuck in a new city or neighborhood and need to find an espresso rapido? That's where The Local Coffeehouse, the Denver-founded national directory of coffeehouses, comes in. It's launching a new version of its site and mobile app.

The guide has more than 16,000 coffeeshops, cafes and coffee roasters across the U.S. Users can search for local coffeeshops via The Local Coffeehouse site or they can download it to their smart devices. With the app, users can input a city or town and state into their smart device and quickly find the closest place to get a cup of joe, latte or croissant.

You won't find Starbucks, Peet's, Seattle's Best or other national chains on The Local Coffeehouse: Although it will list businesses with up to 10 locations, it only covers locally owned independent businesses in the U.S. In addition, the shops must offer espresso drinks a primary beverage or they must be a small-batch roaster.

The Local Coffeehouse points to Specialty Coffee Association of America figures that show there are nearly 30,000 independent coffee retailers in the U.S. Many of them are involved in local events, providing a venue for community gatherings and are always conscious of how they can and do give back. Still, it's hard for small companies to compete with the coffee juggernauts. By focusing on the local companies, the resource gives them a chance to better compete with the chains.

The company gives coffeeshops and cafes free listings on its site and app. With that they get a map marker that geo-locates the shop on the map, a listing displaying information about the address, a brief description or story of their location and a link to their site.

"We highly encourage our retailers to share their personal story in order to really connect with people even before they walk through the door. This feature truly separates us from the rest," says Lisa McIntyre, the company's founder.

"In early 2016, we will be offering three levels of paid membership," McIntyre says. The company will also offer its tools to its a la carte members. Beyond the free features the company offers cafes and coffeehouses it offers push notes to users showing them what kind of foods or other offerings they have.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Now is the time to nominate Colorado Companies to Watch

Colorado is fostering startup companies in a number of sectors from craft brewing to IT to marijuana. After wading in the startup pool, many of these companies go on to reach second-stage growth or further. That's where the Colorado Companies to Watch (CCTW) awards come in, recognizing these companies that are maturing and growing. In the past seven years, CCTW, which is presented by UMB Bank, has recognized 350 companies that have had $2 billion in economic impact in Colorado.

"Second-stage companies hold a unique place in our economy. Through their leadership, innovation, and growth, they ignite our communities with potential beyond measure," says Sean Nohavec, CCTW chairman and senior VP of UMB Bank. "They truly are fueling the economic fire in Colorado."

For the 2016 awards, people can nominate companies for the awards through Jan. 31 and companies can directly apply for consideration through Feb. 19. The awards will be presented in June. After winners are announced, they get a year of benefits, including facilitated local celebrations with key community members, an exclusive professional leadership retreat and networking opportunities with companies that were awarded.

"The Colorado Companies to Watch Awards not only recognize business innovation and entrepreneurial success, but also help these businesses to attract the attention of the investment community, potential partners, and qualified talent," explains CapitalValue Advisors' David Tolson, CCTW managing director.

Some of the previous award recipients include The Grateful Bread Company (2015), Dry Dock Brewing (2014), Boulder Electric Vehicle, Inc. (2013), Coolerado (2010), Justin's Nut Butter (2009) and OtterBox (2009). Organizers say that in 2015 it received more than 1,000 nominations and chose 50 winners.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Pivotal picks up Slice of Lime to enhance UX

Pivotal, a company focusing on cloud software and innovations with offices in Denver recently acquired local user-experience (UX) company Slice of Lime. The purchase will help Pivotal expand its UX services and software offerings to its clients and their users.

Slice of Lime has been recognized many times as a leading UX company. In 2014, UX Magazine awarded it with the Effective Agency Award in the Design for Experience Awards. It was also  recognized by Outside as one of the best places to work in 2015.

"Combining Pivotal's multidisciplinary UX and user interface (UI) design methodologies with Slice of Lime's talent will help us meet a rapidly growing client demand," explains Drew McManus, a vice president at Pivotal Labs. "We're excited to continue to deliver solutions that can transform the future of engaging digital experiences."

"We've partnered with Pivotal on several projects for over five years," says Slice of Lime CEO Kevin Menzie. "We share an iterative approach, a focus on collaboration, and we require empathy for users -- all things that embody the way we think about designing products and working with clients."

"The exciting thing about what Pivotal is doing is that no company, no industry, no person in the world is left untouched by this digital revolution," Menzie says. He says the company's technologies are helping build autonomous vehicles, helping doctors create more effective, DNA-targeted therapy and helping financial companies detect fraud faster, among other things. "The sheer variety of ways our team can help employ our extensive UX design experience in areas such as the Internet of Things, enterprise big data, consumer web and mobile applications is exciting. Joining Pivotal exposes us to so many more clients doing fascinating work as they transform into technology and innovation-driven organizations."

After the acquisition is complete, Slice of Lime will be integrated into Pivotal's Denver and Boulder offices; Slice of Lime already has offices in both cities.  

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Prime Health gamifies healthcare with new app

Denver's Prime Health is tapping into the enjoyment people get out of gaming to do something more meaningful, use it to make healthcare more effective.

The app, Plan-it Med, will be piloted through a partnership with HCA/HealthONE, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and Uptown Primary Care at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center. The app was developed by Play-it Health. Under the partnership patients at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Presbyterian/St. Luke's and Uptown Primary Care will have access to the app.

"We are excited that HCA/HealthONE and Play-it Health met during this year's Challenge. It validates the hard work of the Play-it Health team, the mentors and judges in Prime Health's Challenge qualification and mentoring process," says Jeffrey Nathanson, CEO of Prime Health. "We have been working hard to provide a competitive advantage for companies though our Value Integrator Model, qualifying, vetting and testing digital health companies. This partnership shows we are on the right track."

The app will monitor and incentivize users to engage in personalized education, attend appointments, take medications on time and use other prescribed health monitoring devices. For engaging in the activities patients will receive rewards that may include coupons, badges, games and even reduced insurance premiums. 

"There have been many technological advancements in recent years that allow us to better understand and reach users," says Kimberly Gandy, founder and CEO of Play-it Health and a former pediatric heart and transplant surgeon. "It is time to bring that knowledge to practice in the healthcare setting. Understanding when and why patients follow their health regimens in real time has the potential to revolutionize the way we practice medicine."

The project is supported by $18,750 in seed funding from the Colorado Health Foundation and came out of Prime Health's 2015 Digital Health Challenge.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Couragion wins NSF innovation grant

Denver's Couragion has won a $150,000 National Science Foundation Innovation Research Grant to improve awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. The woman-owned education technology is focused on STEM and how education can lead to fulfilling careers.

The company says its mission is to inspire kids to pursue skills, degrees, and careers in STEM. The company has developed an app that helps users understand what careers are possible with STEM-based education. Data shows 84 percent of users are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. 

The company, which launched in 2014 is quickly expanding. The app is already being used at numerous schools in Denver and the app is available for iOS devices. Now it's working on a new project, which will be supported by the grant.

The grant aims to help improve awareness and perception of careers that require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competencies. People who may be in the best position to influence children might expose children to certain bias when discussing potential career pathways. "If kids understood the opportunities, they could pursue academic pathways to amass skills that better prepare them to enter the workforce," the award states.

Couragion's project will use big data, perceived capacity building, continuous STEM programming and self-reflection to create a commercialized STEM career and self-discovery application and companion data visualization tool. "Career exploration and readiness focused on helping individuals select rewarding and suitable degrees, training, and careers will increase the likelihood that individuals stay in those careers, exhibit greater creativity, and decrease the number of people who invest in education they never use," the company says in a statement.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Recycle a computer, create a job through Hope Tank

Recycle 16 computers in one day and create job. That's the latest project from Hope Tank, launched Jan. 4, to recycle 16 computers every day in January. That's enough work to create a job at local organizations Blue Star Recyclers and PCs for People. Both nonprofits create jobs for people with disabilities and provide refurbished computers to low-income people.

It's an ideal time, the season of giving might be over, but people can still be beneficial, by recycling their old computers to others who can get great benefit for them. "Many of us, especially after the holidays, have computers that have become outdated and we just hold onto them because we don't know what to do with them and we're nervous about the data that is on them being protected," says Hope Tank Owner and Founder Erika Righter.

Blue Star Recyclers has already ethically recycled over 8 million pounds of e-waste, diverted more than 230,000 pounds of hazardous materials from landfills while providing above minimum-wage employment for 26 adults with autism and other disabilities. It's also creating $800,000 in taxpayer savings by reducing Social Security payments to those with disabilities.

"These guys will wipe all the data, and give the computer either an environmentally respectful 'end of life,' or they will give it a whole new life, provide employment for people with barriers, and help those who most need computers in our community," Righter says.

Hope Tank is a local retail store that's dedicated to positive change. A portion of the price for each item purchased in the store benefits a non-profit and many goods in the store are made by local artists or nonprofits. These nonprofits range from veteran's groups like the Art of War, to the Wild Animal Sanctuary to Colorado AIDS Project and a wide variety of other groups.

Righter says that the partners in the project are indicative of partnerships she wants to create going forward. "Blue Star Recyclers is one of our designated charities. Our customers have asked for opportunities to have deeper impact. This is a fun way to do that." Such partnerships can raise awareness of the issue and give the public more ways to become more beneficial to society at large. In this case helping those with disabilities see gainful employment and a living wage.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Denver's 3D Printing Store partners with TurboRoo to print Pawsthetics for animals

The use of 3D printing is revolutionizing prosthetics. The variety of solutions that 3D printing can create is almost as endless as the variety of injuries or deformities that exist.

So why not take that technology and offer the same to animals that are disabled or at risk? That's what The 3D Printing Store is doing through a partnership with TurboRoo. They have launched a Pawsthetics Indiegogo campaign to support more work in creating prosthetics for animals.

It began with TurboRoo last year when The 3D Printing Store designed and printed a new cart for Turbo, a chihuahua born without front legs. Since then, the company and organization have designed and printed prosthetics for other animals in need like Cleopatra, a tortoise whose shell was damaged. "The cover enables Cleopatra to socialize with her tortoise friends again, as well as prevent bacteria from getting inside her shell," The 3D Printing Store explains in a release.

Boris, another tortoise, lost an eye and half of his face in a battle with a larger tortoise. A team of volunteers, including Dr. Bill Guerrerato of Broomfield Veterinary Clinic and Can Van Le at Art of Gold Jewelry, created a working silver jaw that enabled Boris, to eat again on his own. Silver has antibacterial properties that make it an ideal long-term replacement for the tortoise's beak.

"We continue to receive requests to help other animals living in discomfort due to mobility issues," says The 3D Printing Store. "It is heartbreaking to turn down these requests due to funding issues. Our dream is to create the Pawsthetics charity to enable many more amazing animals lead happier, more independent lives through 3D Printed prosthetics."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Santasexual -- or is it Hipster Claus? -- comes to RiNo

Yup, the hipsters took over the North Pole and gave everybody's favorite big ol' stocking stuffer a makeover with a trim waist, hipsterific scarf and lumbersexual beard and boots. Now he's coming to RiNo's The Source on Sat. Dec. 19 to take selfies with you and your loved ones, just in time for those last-second, ironic holiday cards.

The pics will be clicked by Jennifer Olson Photography at The Source, where, "A young attractive man you can call Chris . . . or Nick . . . will visit the artisan market hall to take photos with those who know that Santa is actually a well-groomed bearded man who rides a bike, drinks sour beer, grinds his own coffee beans, and grills only local grass-fed beef," the studio says. "He keeps his Arctic Circle address, but lives just down the street in RiNo, in a loft, of course, moonlighting as an engineer at a neighboring tech company. On Saturday, he will sport his favorite sharp non-trad tapered pants and tailored coat, a V neck, a scarf and his Red Wings boots, plus a selection of trendy red-accented hats."

'Tis the season of giving and you know RiNo's Hipster Santa believes in good causes. So in a millennial way visitors can help him give back. For every selfie taken with and posted to social media with the hashtag #RiNoHipsterSanta, The Source will donate $1 to Slow Food Denver, an in-house nonprofit that advocates for local food and farming policy.

So don ye now your gay apparel or favorite bad Christmas sweater and come down to The Source on Saturday between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to get photos with RiNo Hipster Santa. Brunch date with mistletoe mimosas, anyone?

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Invest Local launches to offer crowdfunding to Coloradans

Crowdfunding has been a buzzword since Kickstarter launched a few years ago, but now its becoming a more common way for people to invest in not just goods, but companies and ideas. Earlier in 2015, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the Colorado Crowdfunding Act to help companies source investments from the crowd.

Newly launched Invest Local will help coordinate and manage those small investments. It's already hosting events to help people learn more about investing through crowdfunding.

"The potential of investment crowdfunding in providing capital needed by Colorado small businesses is tremendous," says Invest Local President Karl Dakin. "There are an estimated 4.3 million non-accredited individuals and over 700,000 businesses that may now invest through crowdfunding. If each of these individuals and businesses were to invest only $1, they could fund five businesses up to the $1 million limit (unaudited financials) under the Colorado Crowdfunding Act. That's $5 million new dollars invested in Colorado. If each of these same investors invest $100 each year -- $1 each in 100 different Colorado businesses, that's half a billion new dollars invested in Colorado -- each year. The positive impact upon Colorado's economy is immeasurable."

It's the type of thing that Invest Local specializes in connecting investors with opportunities. Under the new law, organizations are required to use a registered intermediary such as Invest Local to manage small dollar investors. To help accomplish that Invest Local is serving as a FundPaaS value-added reseller. "We searched out a crowdfunding platform that is adaptable to different types of crowdfunding, compliant with federal and state laws and regulations and which can keep the costs of crowdfunding affordable to the small business. FundPaas met all of these criteria. We look forward to working together with FundPaas in supporting thousands of Colorado businesses, social enterprises and community projects in raising the money they need," Dakin explains.

To help people understand the opportunity, Dakin is hosting events like the Main Street Investing Workshop at Colorado Lending Source on Dec. 17. The $100, half-day course will provide attendees with a scorecard to help them better evaluate crowdfunding investment opportunities and help them compare it to other opportunities using both objective and subjective information.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


CO Impact Initiative launches a call for social impact investments in Colorado

CO Impact Days has launched a Call for Deals, an effort to raise $100 million in investment capital to support social impact efforts over the next three years. The organizers are creating a statewide marketplace for impact investment that they say is the first such marketplace in the U.S.

The Call for Deals is open to for-profit, nonprofits, funds and projects from Dec. 7 to Jan. 10, 2016. The Curtis Hotel and The Ellie Caulkins Opera House will host live events on March 3 and 4 in 2016 to discuss identify impact investing in Colorado as well as opportunities.

CO Impact Days is part of the larger CO Impact Initiative, which is aimed at making Colorado a "better place to live, work, and play," the initiative said in a statement. The initiative was founded by the University of Denver's Impact Finance Center in 2014.

Organizers anticipate that 200 impact investors will be at the event in March. "Social ventures responding to this call could be among the top 50 selected to participate in the first statewide marketplace for impact investing in the United States," CO Impact Days said in a statement.

During the live event, participants will interact in peer discussions and workshops led by industry experts and thought leaders, according to CO Impact Days.

Social ventures and organizations can apply for consideration here in one of six categories: Health, Wellness and Food; Arts, Culture and Creative Enterprise; Energy; Environment, Water, Transportation & Agriculture; Early Childhood and Education; and Economic Development Social and Justice.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

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